An American Classic

Interior Designer Joan Simonsen-Hickok Leads A Design Effort For A New Estate In Palm Beach That Conveys The Essence Of Traditional Hamptons And English Colonial Style

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With an aim for creating the quintessential seaside home for her antique-loving clients, interior designer Joan Simonsen-Hickok, along with designer Wendy Klingensmith, achieved the perfect blend of style and substance for this 18,500-square-foot oceanfront manse in Palm Beach, Fla., combining laid-back charm and sophisticated elegance that equally suits casual family gatherings and formal philanthropic events.

Simplicity and authenticity are the hallmarks of this meticulously detailed home, which features seven bedrooms, two covered loggias, a pool and croquet lawn. The oceanfront estate serves as permanent residence for a sophisticated, well-traveled, family-oriented couple that also maintains two vacation homes in the Northeast. Simonsen-Hickok and the owners enjoy a long history of working together; this project marked their eighth successful collaboration in 12 years. And while their previous homes displayed a range of styles, this time they desired yet another theme: a shingle-style house like those built at the turn of the century in wealthy seaside resorts like the Hamptons, Cape Cod and coastal Maine. "They were the first homes built for the leisure class that featured relaxed, informal living areas where families would go to 'summer' and enjoy the ocean view," the designer says. "It's a style that embodies gracious living and mirrors the owners' penchant for enjoying family and friends."

Simonsen-Hickok was brought on board at the time the couple purchased the property, leading the design effort that spanned five years from planning to completion. The commission was a welcome challenge for the designer, who inherited the design gene from her beloved uncle, an antiques broker in New York City. "For me, I like to give people a home that might raise the bar, not to impress, but for them to reward themselves — like being able to delight in enjoying a fine work of art or an antique they truly love," she says.

The result is an authentic, Hamptons shingle-style home with true attention to detail inside and out. The exterior displays the characteristic pitched roof lines, multiple gables and dormers, arched entry and distinctive towers, along with a classic clapboard façade finished in linen and gray stacked above rough hewn stone that was quarried in Maine. For the interiors, Simonsen-Hickok chose a palette of robins-egg blue with a nod to the ocean view. "We carried the blue theme throughout, with the exception of the dining room, to establish continuity and a strong sense of place," she says.

A carefully assembled collection of fine area rugs were her starting points for the decor; the designer shopped for three years to find the appropriate carpet for each space in the house. Solid Brazilian walnut flooring initiates in the entry foyer and continues in the living room, where an original Turkish Oushak area rug in pale blue and apricot establishes the color scheme and anchors the assemblage of favorite antiques and fine, traditional furnishings. "I love to use Oushaks in Florida because their colorations are so appropriate for the light," Simonsen-Hickok says. "They lend a tropical feel yet still impart a richness that pairs well with traditional style."

Here, a centerpiece arrangement is composed of two custom-sized sofas, an assortment of deep-seated lounge chairs and a pair of large banquettes, all clad in traditional fabrics and trims, and grouped around an antique pedestal table. In keeping with the design directive to reflect turn-of-the-century style, all walls are embellished with meticulously detailed, paneled millwork. A mix of table lamps, wall sconces, chandeliers, and recessed lighting illuminates the space.

Inspired by an area rug from an Indian palace, the formal dining room displays an English garden palette of lavender and green. "The floor plan of this house is more traditional in the sense that all spaces are separated and entered via hallways," the designer says. The opulent setting is anchored by a reproduction dining table adorned with faux ivory pearl detailing and surrounded by Regency-inspired chairs.

An expansive loggia displays a formal attitude in keeping with the interiors. "We carried through the same Côte d'Azur blue and apricot palette as the living room, but brighter and more fun," Simonsen-Hickok says. Bluestone flooring provides continuity with the home's exterior, while columns feature the same paneled millwork as the interior.

"My collaborations with these clients has afforded me the opportunity to be a design chameleon, creating projects that are each personalized and unique," Simonsen-Hickok says. "This is a distinctly American-style home, historically inspired inside and out."

Interior Design
Joan Simonsen-Hickok, Simonsen-Hickok Interiors, Inc., Naples, FL, and Wendy Klingensmith, WK Smith Interiors, Rye, NY

Kim Sargent, Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Carl Erickson, Erickson & Associates, Naples, FL, and Fernando Zabala, L-Architecture LLC, Naples, FL

Paul L. Kleinfeld, First Florida Development & Construction, Inc., Stuart, FL

Text by
De Schofield